I could start this editorial off by saying a long time ago, but that would be pretentious and in the grand scheme of things 15 years isn’t really that long ago. To be truthful, I’m not sure when I began playing video games as I have a horrible memory for those types of things. In fact I barely remember high school let alone grade school and my younger years.
I do, however, remember what sparked an interest, not just with gaming in general, but with general computing. Neither of my parents are technology enthusiasts, my Dad is a space nut; perhaps I get some of that from him. My mother’s early experience with computers and technology was shaped by her secretarial courses and typing classes. Therefore, in an age of MS-DOS and early Windows 3.1 I didn’t receive much exposure outside your traditional childhood console rage.
My neighbour was the head of IT at the University of Windsor back when IT really didn’t have a concrete meaning, when punch cards were prevalent and the idea of more than 512KBs of memory was absurd. Being an only child, with just my imagination to fuel my entertainment, I often visited when his grandchildren were over. He had three computers, even today three computers seems like a lot, but in the 90s three computers was serious overkill. He primarily dealt with early HTML, but he did have three computer games to keep us kids occupied. A shareware version of Doom, Quake and Commander Keen. I would like to say my earliest memory of video gaming was on an Atari or ColecoVision, but that would be lying. I am jealous of people who grew up with these sorts of toys, even my fiancée grew up with an Commodore 64 playing games like Archon and Summer Games.
Nope, I joined the game late compared to my counterparts. My first computer was an early MS-DOS machine, my mother believed typing was a very important skill to have so three times a week while I was in grade school we both attended typing classes. I pride myself on my typing speed — I haven’t found anyone who can type faster than I. On my DOS machine I played games like the first Prince of Persia and Mario Teaches Typing.
Soon my love of video games took me further, I remember the day I got my first (yes first — I received my second at an older age) Super Nintendo… I even remember the smell. Anyone who has purchased a classic console system knows the smell of that plastic when you first open the box. That smell lingers with anyone who shared a childhood passion for video games. That progressed to the Nintendo 64. My games of choice were Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Mario RPG, Donkey Kong Country, GoldenEye 64, the Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire and more popular games for the Nintendo platform.
Being an only child I wasn’t much into multiplayer gaming, I never learned the idea of sharing — when friends came over to “play” video games it mostly consisted of them watching me play. Games of Mortal Kombat turned into me using both controllers at once, or just practicing the fatalities over and over. I was exposed to violent and questionable video game content at an early age. My mother always took flak for that, the other mothers would hound her and question her ethics on the type of video games I was playing. If anything it desensitized me; not in a bad way though.
I spent an entire summer one year playing shareware games, things like Hexen, Blood and Blood 2. I was really into the Tomb Raider series and of course Command and Conquer by… yes… Westwood Studios, but of course my real obsession took hold when I first played Half-Life.
I really don’t remember what got me interested in Half-Life… I never heard of it before it was released, in fact I picked it up some time after the release because I was so engrossed with SiN. It was probably the box art, or the idea of a new first person shooter… I really wish I could remember purchasing the game or what piqued my curiosity… perhaps it was fate. I do remember playing it for the first time. I was scared. Really scared. I never played an FPS before that genuinely scared me. The alien slaves right after the resonance cascade was a moment to be engraved in my mind forever; I think I even called my mom over to “show her how cool it was”, but really I just needed someone around!
From there things just took off… I discovered TFC soon thereafter and began mapping and getting involved in the community. Maybe one day I’ll release my really early maps which are essentially kill boxes, but were stepping stones for me into what I consider to be a hardcore gaming lifestyle. After that moment I consumed as much video games as humanly possible and still do while trying to keep up with real life.
In high school I ran various LAN parties, some with upwards of 100 people; I had a non-profit organization called Windsor LAN where we would rent out switches and banquet halls and hold all night gaming sessions and some were even sponsored. I also worked at LAN centre for some time called the Windsor Gaming Centre; there I maintained the library of games and prided myself on having a giant collection of great titles, both console and PC variants.
Now I run Podcast 17… and the rest is well history and that’s my story.